5 things to consider when dealing with debt collectors
When debt collectors use aggressive tactics in tracking you down to pay off your debt, you can protect yourself by knowing your rights. A good understanding of what these collection agencies can and cannot do can help you better handle an unpleasant situation.
1. Abiding by the Fair Trading Act: While debt collectors are legally allowed to take "reasonable" steps toward collecting money, they are banned from undue harassment or coercion, according to the Fair Trading Act. If a collector forces or intimidates you to pay off your debt, you should lodge a complaint and seek legal action against the person or agency.
2. A debt collector's boundaries: Unless a court grants them the permission to do so, debt collectors cannot intimidate you with legal action or forcible seizure of your assets. You also are not legally obligated to let a debt collector into your home. In some cases, a court ruling may grant collectors the right to sell off your belongings to pay back money owed, but this usually is applicable only in the cases of mortgage-related debt.
3. Your right to privacy: If you feel a debt collector has invaded your privacy by asking for your driver's license number, details about your bank account(s) or other personal information, file a police report. You also may want to consult a lawyer or financial counselor before speaking with a collector.
4. False or misleading representation: Debt collectors who mislead debtors about their identities face heavy penalties. Some tactics include claiming they are government representatives, providing a false sense of how much debt you have and using a fake name.
5. Violence and verbal abuse: Debt collectors are restricted from using violence or verbal abuse. This can include other forms of harassment such as repeated telephone calls that have the intent to annoy, abuse or harass the person on the other end of the line. Again, call the police if you feel a debt collector's behavior has crossed the line.
You can protect yourself against further harassment by documenting a collector's behavior. Doing so will give you a stronger case should you choose to file a lawsuit. Remember: You have rights, and those rights are in place to protect you.
Article by Chesutiko